Qatiaf (Middle Eastern Dessert)

20160705_221813-2Eid mubarak y’all. It’s been 5 years since I was a newlywed-a little less since I have been posting as one. I think its safe to say I have at least progressed in some areas, cooking perhaps …I now share a more experienced recipe for Qatiaf and one that is 10x more delicious than Qatiaf (Pancake Pockets with Walnut Filling), although the technicalities are the same and if you would like, can use the original post as a picture reference for such. Thank you to my FIL and MIL for the recipe:

DOUGH

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/8 of t. salt
  • 2 T of sugar
  • 1/2 t. yeast
  • 3 T. of dried milk (or 1 c. regular milk)
  • 3 c. water at room temperature (or 2 c. water if using regular milk instead of dried milk)

MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER VERY WELL AND LET SIT OUT FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS

ADD THE FOLLOWING RIGHT BEFORE THROWING THE BATTER ON TO THE SKILLET TO MAKE YOUR PANCAKES:

  • 1 t. baking soda

FILLING (Two types)

COMBINE THE FOLLOWING

  • 3 c. walnuts crushed
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 t. rosewater or orange blossom water
  • 1 T. cinnamon

 and/or

  • Akkawi (جبن عكاوي) cheese (soak in water the night before to remove the saltiness)
  • or sweet cheese
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 t. rose or orange blossom water

SIMPLE SYRUP

  • 2 c sugar
  • 1.25-1.5 c. water

BOIL UNTIL MELTED TOGETHER AND AS SOON AS YOU TURN OFF THE HEAT ADD THE FOLLOWING:

  • A couple squirts of lemon
  • 1 t. of orange blossom water

ONCE YOUR POCKETS ARE FORMED AROUND THE FILLING AND YOUR SIMPLE SYRUP IS PREPARED YOU ARE ALMOST READY TO SERVE:

FRY BOTH SIDES OF YOUR POCKETS IN A BIT OF CORN OIL OR BRUSH BOTH SIDES WITH BUTTER AND BAKE, WHEN BROWNED DIP INTO YOUR SYRUP AND SERVE IMMEDIATELY

*SPOILER ALERT* I found this to taste like a perfectly toasted marshmallow or a fresh from the fryer funnel cake with powdered sugar. Too good.

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Stairway to Nothingness

What should you think about when you are taking a walk?

Same thing as what you should think about when you are drawing a picture, cooking a meal, watching a film, reading a book, meditating a thought, solving a puzzle, eating an apricot, climbing a tree…

Nothing. Nothingness. Blankness, obsolescent, solitariness,

stairway to nothingness…

In yoga, some say the final resting pose is the hardest pose to achieve-the one where your whole body relaxes into the earth. Your face feels supple and you can feel the earth turn.

Nothingness.

What part of the walk is hardest to achieve?

Your brain will recognize: Tree, leaves, path, fence, car dirt, building, person, grass….

But even these thoughts will be clouded with other thoughts that are personal but really guys, universal. That means everyone: These range from thinking my shoes are too tight to will I wear shoes after I die?

Don’t become disappointed with yourself for not ‘enjoying the walk’ or getting maximum benefit from it. Somehow, and this is not a secret, your words will leave your brain and you will just do.

Undoubtedly, you will come to and think I’m doing it!  And this will disrupt the process. But that’s okay. It happens, let it go.

Remember that the process is one that you can only open the door to. The infinite external stimuli will do the rest.

So the hardest part of the walk to achieve…

It’s the moment when you can feel the earth turn.

(Photographs courtesy of Miss Blondie 2012)

Ma’amoul (Shortbread Cookies With Dates)

What a wonderful time of year! A time in which many feel enormous gratitude and happiness. The long, yet too short month of Ramadan is over, and its time to celebrate with family and friends. Ma’amoul is a traditional dessert served. It goes perfect with tea, as I am enjoying the combination right now. Eating it is as important as the preparation stage. In some places, droves of women will gather in common areas and spread their blankets out and together, prepare the dish. While I didn’t have the pleasure of such, my experience this year was surely just as nice.

As a new wife, I am happily getting to know new family. Family with rich experiences, stories, and skills, have only just begun to unfold around me, and my heart is wide open. I vow to never let trivial squabbles ever come between us, we will not argue over money, and let’s never hold a grudge.  This is my Eid wish for me and my new family, and yours too! Now for the Ma’amoul courtesy of a beautiful woman, my new friend,  hard-working mother of three.

Pictures provided at the end of the recipe come from the oldest son(age 8), who borrowed my phone to snap some pictures, lending well to the atmosphere of our particular experience.

Enjoy and Eid Mubarak! (Happy Eid!)

Dough ingredients

9 cups semolina flour

3 cups Butter (or Crisco, yellow with butter flavor)

3/4 cups Mazola oil or canola

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Day Two Dough Ingredients:

Freshly ground anise

A couple of pinches of yeast

Warm water

Filling ingredients

Date paste (You can make your own using dates, but we used a package):

One teaspoon of butter

A pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg

Step One: Prepare the dough one day ahead

Combine the dry ingredients, then add melted butter (not hot) and oil. Mix the ingredients very well, cover, and let stand. Your dough should feel very powdery to the touch and somewhat dry. The next day,  it is ready to be used.

You will now add your Day 2 ingredients (a couple of pinches of yeast, a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a splash of warm water.

Step Two: Add Day 2 ingredients to your dough

The water should only be slightly warm, not hot. Now you are ready to mix the dough with your hands. Add water until your dough can be easily molded. Set aside for two hours in a warm place.

Step Three: Prepare your pliable dough and let sit for 2 hours

While you wait for your dough to rise a little, you can make the filling. Add the ingredients and mix together.

Step Four: Prepare your date filling

Mold your filling into small balls about the circumference of a nickel.

Step five: Shape your filling

When your dough is ready, it’s time to mold your cookies. Pluck a bit of dough, just enough to cover your filling. Roll into a ball and then press an indent with your thumb.

Step 6: Shape your cookies around the filling

Round out the cookie and press your forefinger into the middle and rotate.

Rotate your thumb around while keeping your forefinger in the middle until you have a small ring

Fill an entire pan, and let sit covered for 20 minutes.

Step 7: Cover your cookies and let sit for 20 minutes

Now they are ready for the oven.  Pop them in at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes. If they seem to be able to use some browning, turn on the low broil for a minute or two.

Once they are completely cool, dust powdered sugar over them or leave plain.

Powdered Ma’amoul

Another option for molding your cookies is to use a cookie cutter that is traditional and recognizable. Ma’amoul can have other fillings, so this shape help identifies your favorite one when it’s time to enjoy.

Shape cookie and flatten into cookie cutter, pound out by tapping table

Traditional shape: Date cookie

Extra Step (Walnut Filled Cookies)

Other traditional fillings include walnuts or pistachios, and also have a particularly recognizable shape. We also made a couple of pans of walnut cookies, using the same dough.

Mix dry ingredients for walnut filling

The filling is very sticky, it includes walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, and simple syrup. Do not add anise, as this is only for the date cookies.

Mix wet ingredients into walnut filling

Mold your dough, press into your cookie cutter, and bake

Well, what a day making such delicious  cookies, I hope you enjoy making them in your home. Don’t forget to take time and enjoy your company. Until next time!


BAM! Bamia! (Okra stew)

There are two ways in which I enjoy Okra. Crispy and deep fried alongside similarly cooked chicken, and in a stew with beef and tomatoes. Any other way has proven terribly slimy and therefore hardly palatable. Today’s recipe is for the stew, known sometimes as Bamia (Okra). The secret to combating slime are tomatoes! Who knew? I didn’t, but I do now and so do you…

INGREDIENTS
1 bag of frozen Okra or 16 oz of fresh
4 tomatoes (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 lb of steak (chopped)
2-3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
¾ of a can of tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Slices of lemon (For serving alongside finished dish)

RECIPE
Serves 4-5 people
1. Fry steak in a pot for which you will eventually add all your ingredients. Drain grease. (If you do this step in advance, you can let the meat cool and cut it into smaller pieces, since it is sometimes easier to cut once it is already cooked.)
2. Add about a cup or two of water-you don’t want to make soup, and remember you can always add more water to suit your taste or preferred consistency.
3. Add tomato paste and stir. Leave to simmer.
4. Fry onions until brown. Add to the pot of meat.
5. Fry Okra until nice and brown. Add to the pot.
6. Fry tomatoes until soft and add to the pot.
(If you are an experienced cook, you can fry your ingredients simultaneously and dump everything in together, but if you are novice like me, take your time and fry each ingredient one at a time.)
7. Periodically stir all ingredients in the pot and simmer on medium for one hour.
8. When you have about 20 minutes of simmering left, fry garlic and mix it still sizzling into the stew.
9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Serve with flat bread for scooping, and/or rice.
11. Add a salad and accompaniments. Don’t forget the lemon wedge-mouth watering squeezed over the steaming stew. Yum!

Chicken and Bread (Imsakhn) & Jews Mallow (Molukhia)

Here are two great recipes to combine for one complete meal. Of course you can make these recipes separate, though they do lend very well to one another.

I have started with the main course, the Imsakhn.

Basically it utilizes the twice cooked chicken technique, not unlike Kebsah. (Boil and broil!) This means of course that you can get some of that lovely chicken broth that you can use for whatever you wish.

With that broth I made Jews Mallow (Molokhia) which I have shown below the Imsakhan recipe.

Imasakhn

(Twice cooked) chicken on bread, & onions

Supplies

Large pot for boiling chicken

Deep Pan (about 1-2 inch vertical), the bigger the better

Medium Frying Pan

Strainer (for straining broth)

Ingredients

4-6 Onions

2 slices of large flat bread (enough to cover the pan you use with two layers)

A whole chicken cut into about 8 pieces (A lot of supermarkets will do this for you, just bring them the chicken you find in the case and ask them to cut it up.)

Spices and Flavorings

A combination of a couple of simple spices is all you need.

Olive Oil

LemonSalt

Pepper

Sumac

Recipe

Let it boil!

1. Fill a pot up with enough water to cover your pieces of chicken.

2. Add your cleaned chicken and an onion and boil for about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until your chicken is cooked thoroughly.

3. Fry up your remaining onions until they are nice and browned4. Line your deep dish pan with a layer of bread, olive oil, 1/3 of your onions, and a lot of Sumac! Broil this first layer for a few minutes until nice and golden brown.

One layer down, now add another, and don’t be afraid to really pour on that Sumac. (Next time I will put even more than this picture shows.)

4. Take your first layer out of the oven and add another bread/onion sumac layer, so that you will have two layers. (You will have 1/3 left of your fried onions.) Now it’s time to layer the chicken on top.

5. Take your pot of boiled chicken and strain the broth into another pot. This should leave you with a strainer full of chicken and a chopped onion.

6. Tip the strainer over letting your chickens and onions fall on to the bread. Add the remaining fried onions alongside the chicken and arrange the pieces to be broiled nice and crispy.

Sumac, the deep berry red spice you see on the chicken, has a delightful somewhat tart taste.

7. Generously add all your spices and oil/lemon over the chicken. Don’t be stingy with that Sumac! Throw it under the broiler until browned and serve.

Now that you have some wonderful broth from the Imsakhan, why not add a side that takes only about 7 minutes to make? You can even do this while your chicken broils, and put everything out on the table at the same time. (I love when that happens.)

Jews Mallow (Molokhia)

Supplies

1 Soup pan/pot

1 Ladle

Small frying pan

Ingredients

One package of minced Molokhia

Chicken Broth (About 5 ladles)

One diced tomato

Spices & Flavorings

Diced garlic to taste (I like a lot so I used 4 cloves)

Lemon wedges (To serve alongside the dish)

Salt (Couple of pinches)

Recipe

1. Open up your package of frozen Molokhia and put into a pot with a ladle of chicken broth.

3. As it melts down add broth one ladle at a time until you have the consistency you want. (You won’t need much broth, it should be very cloudy with green.)

4. When it is melted, add a chopped tomato into the broth (Without this step, the consistency will be slimy.)

5. Let it simmer while you brown the garlic over the stove. (It needs only simmer  a few minutes.)

6. Sprinkle the  browned garlic into your pot of Molokhia and add a few pinches of salt.

7. Serve like soup with fresh lemon wedges to encourage diners to squeeze over the finished product. (Also great on rice.)

Delicious.

Dinner on the patio.

Fool Proof Banana Bread Part DEUX

Hey Ma, I did it, I finally did it! It has been two months since my last attempt, but this time my banana bread came out good enough to eat.

Unlike my last masterpiece, I added no frills and left out the kitchen sink.  I used this recipe, and only changed a few things out of necessity. For one, I do not have a mixer so I beat everything by hand. Another thing I didn’t have was vanilla, so I sprinkled a tablespoon of vanilla pudding powder with the wet ingredients. Lastly, I added chocolate chips because what’s the point without them? I baked for the said time and did not resort to the broiler; dinner was already cooked and cooling on the stove.

The pictures aren’t that exciting, but I am just such a happy little baker, I had to share.

If I hadn’t failed so miserably before, I would not be as appreciative today, and that’s the lesson, a classic; if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

Chicken and Rice (Kabseh) Recipe

This simple dish could easily feed up to 4 people or you could double it if you are having guests.  It is called Kabseh, and is originally a Saudi dish, especially when you add raisins (which we did not).  It is very easy to make and needless to say, delicious.

Remember to keep it simple, and you will do fine.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 moderately hungry people)

1 whole chicken (5lbs approx.) cut into 6-8 pieces

  • You can substitute lamb for chicken
  • you can do as much chicken as your pot can handle

Onion (Depends on the size of the onion, but we used two medium-sized onions)

Spices (Salt, pepper, mixed spices, cinnamon, curry, hot curry*optional, garlic powder)

Lemon

Tomato paste

Basmati rice (2 cups)

Slivered almonds

Now, you are going to need a big pot. This is a great investment because you will find so many uses for it.

RECIPE

1. Clean the chicken any way you do it

  • I just use water to rinse it very well

2. Fill the pot with the chicken, add water until it covers the meat

3. Chop up 1-1.5 onions and throw into the pot

4. Add about a tablespoon each of salt and pepper (optional)

5. Let this boil for a good hour on the stove

6. Soak 2 cups of rice

7.  Meanwhile (about 30 minutes before you take the chicken off the stove), chop the rest of your onions and throw into a pot that you will use to cook the rice

8. Brown the onions

9. Add most of your spices (mixed spices, curries, salt & pepper, cinnamon-about three good shakes will do, be liberal about the amount of spices you use, be confident about throwing them in there but don’t go overboard.)

10. Add a small can of tomato paste

11. Mix together and add a little bit of chicken broth from your pot of boiling chicken until it is smooth

12. Add the rice and more chicken broth until the liquid is about an inch more than your dried rice

13. Boil for a few minutes and turn your stove down to about 2 and let cook for 20 minutes

14. While your rice is cooking, take your chicken off of the stove.

15. Sprinkle it with garlic powder and squeezed lemon juice.

16. Put on a pan under the broiler on high for about 10-20 minutes (Until it is brown and crispy).

    • Save the broth for anything you want to make in the future

17. Keep an eye on that chicken and chop up a salad (The smaller pieces, the better-more variety on the fork!)

18. Fry your almonds in a little bit of oil, don’t fry for too long because they will continue to cook even off the heat.

Now you ready to put it all together!

19. Scoop the rice on to a large platter and place the chicken pieces on top, lastly sprinkle your almonds over the dish.

20. Serve with plain yogurt, olives, and hot peppers, makes my mouth water just thinking about it, and I just got through eating it!